Foes of Wilmette hotel spread the word to train commuters
Updated: April 4, 2012 9:36AM
Opponents of the proposed Marriott Hotel project took their message — that it sets a dangerous spot-zoning precedent that ultimately could disrupt any residential neighborhood in Wilmette — to the public Tuesday, ahead of an April 10 Village Board meeting at which the hotel could win final approval.
Lockerbie Lane and Old Glenview Road residents handed out leaflets to passengers at Wilmette’s downtown Metra station, and those boarding the Linden Avenue el during Tuesday’s morning rush hours.
“What we’re hoping to do is to get more people to come out to the meeting, by letting them know that this situation isn’t just happening to us, that it could happen anywhere in Wilmette,” Lockerbie Lane homeowner Jack Rasof said Tuesday.
Village trustees are expected to vote on a retooled site plan for the six-story, extended-stay residential hotel when they meet next Tuesday. That meeting is set to start at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall, 1200 Wilmette Ave.
A positive decision by the board would mark the last substantial hurdle for Indiana developer White Lodging Inc. before work could begin at 3201 Old Glenview Road.
But neighbors say the 1.6-acre site is too small for the hotel, and too close to their homes. They say the hotel itself will usher in too much traffic, could attract crime, and will change the nature of their quiet streets. They have fought the project since White Lodging and village officials first announced it last year.
Rasof and fellow Lockerbie resident Tom Reed said Tuesday they were getting more positive than negative responses from commuters to whom they handed the leaflets.
“It’s mostly favorable when we tell them we need their help,” Rasof said. “And some of them have said they were already aware of the situation.”
Chris Johnson, one of the Lockerbie Lane homeowners who has spearheaded much of the fight, last week repeated one of the neighbors’ main charges, that the planned unit development White Lodging has prepared would create the first hotel in the Chicago area to directly abut single-family homes.
“Our approach is to talk to the rest of Wilmette, and to say ‘If they can put something this ridiculously inappropriate next to us, then they can do it to you,’” he said March 30.
When White Lodging announced that it wanted to build the 130-unit hotel on commercial property off the Edens Expressway, Wilmette officials hailed the project as an eventual source of tax revenue for the village and a good use of a long-undeveloped property.
The Wilmette Plan Commission gave first-round approval to White Lodging’s PUD proposal last September, and sent it Wilmette village trustees, who approved it unanimously in October. The case then returned to the Plan Commission for a site-plan review that would incorporate changes the Village Board wanted.
Last month, the amended PUD plan got a 4-1 recommendation from the commission. Chairman Borys Later cast the lone negative vote, saying that she didn’t think the plan met zoning conditions. Commissioner Michael Bailey, who voted against the plan during its first review by the commission, said he voted for it the second time around only because the charge this time was only to ensure that White Lodging had made changes and met conditions set by village trustees.
The company hopes to start building this year, for a 2013 opening, and has been working with neighbors on landscaping and other issues.